A Thought From Jane Shapiro

It is gratifying to see so many fine practitioners and educational leaders taking up the challenge of a new vision for congregational education. Optimism that we will find good answers to meet the challenges can be felt. In that light, a shout-out to Rabbi Aaron Starr of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Michigan, for his post on EJewish Philanthropy.

Rabbi Starr’s work is a model of ReFrame-style thinking. Before we rush to strategies and methodologies, let’s rethink the world of our students and our families. Our schools do not “supplement” anymore. They are often the “primary” source for Jewish families.
More specifically, ReFrame thinking looks deeply at content. What do we want to teach? What do we want our students to know and feel and do? Once we grapple with a definition of content/curriculum we are posed to consider how we go about it. The specific ideas that have already been implemented at Shaarey Zedek are well worth exploration and further discussion.

Jane Shapiro

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Responses to “A Thought From Jane Shapiro”

  1. I want each person who, as I see it, is always a learner and a teacher infinitely involved in the dynamic process of exploration, to feel an insatiable curiosity. And devoted. I want them each to feel a devotion to attend mindfully to each moment.
    I know… I learn this (and teach it too) in yoga, but I learned it at camp. When my heart would break open wide with tears and the most painful sobs as I climbed the bus to go home, and I began counting the days until I could go back to this place where every moment had flavor, scenery, and students and teachers of every shape and mind.
    And then, it became all I could do. And as a student and teacher today, I’m thrilled when a supplementary school teacher tells me his students are bored and the teachers are unispired. Because these expressions are so ripe. Bored learners can incite change. Uninspired teachers have whole palaces within them they’ve yet to explore.
    Invite them to feel.
    Make those feelings valued.
    Say, “Tell me MORE!” more often than you ask them to repeat information.
    And follow each question with passionate, insatiable curiosity.
    It’s both nourishing and exhausting. Risky and reliably so. It asks students to guide and teachers to sit back in wonder.
    In the dynamic balance of these complimentary contrasts, we get a taste of wonder. Becoming full of wonder, and always ready for more.

    • Anyone who has experienced Becca Sykes as an educator knows that she means what she says when she uses words like “passion, curiosity, opening, and wonder” These are the emotions at the heart of experiential education. This post invites us to be both “in our heads, reFraming” but also in our hearts, expressive and joyful at the task of bringing the beauty of Jewish life and Jewish tradition to beautiful Jewish children all over.

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